Tainted Blood

Thomas C. McCollum, III, Author Shoji Books $25 (354p) ISBN 978-1-880404-11-9
Readers willing to suspend disbelief beyond belief may find McCollum's first novel an interesting medical thriller; others will be dismayed by characters manipulated by incredible plot contrivances. A prologue postulates that, in the 1970s, a mad scientist concocted a retrovirus and proceeded to inoculate massive numbers of American gay men and Africans, beginning the AIDS epidemic. In the present, Scott Reid, the 48-year-old CEO of an immunodiagnostic research and development lab, tests HIV-positive, despite all lifestyle markers to the contrary. In fact, his test results have been misread by a distracted lab technician, but, in any case, fiction soon becomes reality. On a fishing trip to the Netherlands Antilles, Scott uncovers evidence of secret offshore funds and investment scams involving a U.S. senator. Also on board is a young mob-connected physician, Nicki Graziano, who, as a favor to ``the Family,'' which wants Scott dead for business reasons, infects the CEO with a particularly virulent strain of HIV-2 that will ensure death within a few months. Scott spends the rest of his short life tracking down his murderer and trying to convince others about the hit against him. McCollum makes the medical details microscopically authentic, but too many standard diatribes against government agencies, characters who speak polemic as often as they do dialogue and a conclusion that's painfully anticlimactic render a hot topic tepid. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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